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Scotland Opens Smart Grid Research Center

The future of electrical distribution will be a smart one. The smart grid is a great concept, but the integration and implementation of large-scale models needs a lot more research to bring it up to full potential.

That’s where Scotland’s new Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC) comes in. This world-class smart grid research and testing hub will enable developers, engineers, researchers, and businesses to come together to accelerate the adoption of advanced grid technologies.

The PNDC, at the University of Strathclyde, has a small-scale, independent power network (11kV/400V) that can be reconfigured for developing and integrating the newest research in controls and sensors for analysis and optimization.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond called it a “world-class research centre”, and said that the PNDC is another example of how the country is leading the way toward meeting the electrical and energy needs of the future.

“Smart grid technologies are increasingly important as we move to a low-carbon economy, helping to reduce energy waste and making it easier for homes and businesses to generate their own renewable energy.” – Salmond

The vision of the PNDC is quite ambitious, but could really jumpstart smart grid technology:

To provide a purpose built platform for researching and developing state of the art electrical transmission, distribution and generation innovation.

To provide a realistic and controllable test bed for the development of emerging technologies that will support the realisation of a de-carbonised grid.

To create a rapid technology pipeline accelerating the proving and deployment of integrated solutions.

Most of us may be familiar with the idea of smart meters (some utilities are using these already), but because smart grid technology has quite a large scope, it’s not very visible to the end users. However, these new technologies could be applied to aspects of the grid such as large-scale efforts toward reducing peak power demands and increasing energy efficiency, to real-time tracking and control over elements on the grid, as well as leading to better integration of distributed energy sources into the grid (such as rooftop solar).

The PNDC is a result of a collaboration between the University of Strathclyde, ScottishPower Energy Networks, Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council.

[Image: auspices]

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